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Governor To Contact Feds Over Nursing Home Cost Hike

The Associated Press
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Gov. Rick Scott said he will call U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald as Florida awaits a decision that could add more than $20 million to the construction cost of a planned state veterans' nursing home in St. Lucie County.

Scott and the Florida Cabinet were told Tuesday that the cost for the St. Lucie County facility they approved in 2014 is projected to grow from $39.7 million to nearly $60 million because of federal guidelines that were not in place when the state first looked at building additional veterans' nursing homes.

Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs Executive Director Mike Prendergast wrote March 3 to McDonald to advise him that the state will have to redo its grant request for the 120-bed facility in St. Lucie County unless the federal agency can agree to some compromises, from waiving design requirements to agreeing to cover at least 65 percent of the added costs.

The 65 percent mark is what the federal government agreed to cover when Florida sought a grant for the facility at $39.7 million. The state is expected to pay $13.9 million of that cost. Prendergast noted in the letter that without the assurance of additional federal money, the state Legislature "will not increase funding to this or any other construction projects." Prendergast said Tuesday that the state continues to await a decision from the federal agency.